Startup company

SoftBank’s Deepcore and accelerator Zeroth team up to hunt early stage AI opportunities

Two early stage AI programs are joining forces because, even in the world of artificial intelligence, two heads are better than one. Hong Kong-based accelerator Zeroth — which recently grabbed a majority investment from Animoca Brands — and Deepcore, a Japanese incubator and fund that is part of the SoftBank group, are pairing up to use their resources on deal sourcing and other collaboration around artificial intelligence. The two seem complementary, with Deepcore focused on starting new ventures and investing in AI companies more generally, while Zeroth operates Asia’s first accelerator program targeted at AI and machine learning startups. It recently bagged $3 million through a deal that sees Animoca Brands take a 67 percent share stake in Deepcore’s operating business and provide a che...

Cities that didn’t win HQ2 shouldn’t be counted out

Brooks Rainwater Contributor More posts by this contributor As tasks wane, skills rise Blockchain technology could be the great equalizer for American cities Scott Andes Contributor Scott Andes is the program director for the National League of Cities City Innovation Ecosystem program. The more than year-long dance between cities and Amazon for its second headquarters is finally over, with New York City and Washington, DC, capturing the big prize. With one of the largest economic development windfalls in a generation on the line, 238 cities used every tactic in the book to court the company – including offering to rename a city “Amazon” and appointing Jeff Bezos “mayor for life.” Now that the process, and hysteria, are over, and cities have stopped asking “how can we get Amazon,” we’d like...

In venture capital, it’s still the age of the unicorn

Howie Xu Contributor Howie Xu is the vice president of artificial intelligence and machine learning at Zscaler. He previously co-founded TrustPath and served as an entrepreneur in residence at Greylock. This month marks the 5-year anniversary of Aileen Lee’s landmark article, “Welcome To The Unicorn Club”. At the time, the piece defined a new breed of startup — the $1 billion privately held company. When Lee did her first count, there were 39 “unicorns”; an improbable, but not impossible number.. Today, the once-scarce unicorn has become a global herd with 376 companies on the roster and counting. But the proliferation of unicorns begs raises certain questions. Is this new breed of unicorn artificially created? Could these magical companies see their valuations slip and fall out of the her...

Mexican venture firm ALL VP has a $73 million first close on its latest fund

Buoyed by international attention from U.S. and Chinese investors and technology companies, new financing keeps flowing into the coffers of Latin American venture capital firms. One day after the Brazilian-based pan-Latin American announced the close of its $150 million latest fund comes word from our sources that ALL VP, the Mexico City-based, early stage technology investor, has held a first close of $73 million for its latest investment vehicle. The firm launched its first $6 million investment vehicle in 2012, according to CrunchBase, just as Mexico’s former President Enrique Peña Nieto was coming to power with a pro-business platform. One which emphasized technology development as part of its strategy for encouraging economic growth. ALL VP founding partner Fernando Lelo de Larrea sai...

Silicon Valley’s sovereign wealth problem

John Vrionis Contributor It’s time to bring the conversation about where Silicon Valley gets its money from out into the open. Following recent revelations into Saudi Arabia’s extensive reach and influence in the US technology sector, the willful ignorance that has defined the relationship between venture capital firms and the limited partnerships (LPs) that fund them for years now isn’t going to cut it anymore. According to the latest reports from the Wall Street Journal, Saudi Arabia is now the single-largest source of funding for US-based tech companies. Since 2016, the Saudi royal family has invested at least $11 billion into US startups directly, and in August, the Saudi Arabian government committed $45 billion to Softbank’s $92 billion Vision Fund. To put that into context, the total...

Study: Latinx women-led startups have raised 0.4% of VC since 2009

In recent years, many have pushed to level the playing field for women in tech through new initiatives, funds, companies, support networks and more. White women, however, have emerged as the key beneficiaries. Less has been done to bolster black and Latinx female founders specifically. Enter digitalundivided. The organization, which encourages black and Latinx women to pursue entrepreneurship, has been working to highlight just how extensive the disparity in funding is for black and Latinx female founders. Today the company published its first-ever report on venture capital funding, or lack thereof, for Latinx female founders via its proprietary research arm, called ProjectDiane, in partnership with JPMorgan Chase. The key takeaways: Latinx women make up 17.1 percent of the U.S. women’s po...

Lessons from building Brex into a billion-dollar startup

Henrique Dubugras Contributor Henrique Dubugras is the founder Brex, the billion-dollar corporate credit provider for startups. When I think about my experience as an immigrant and entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, I remember growing up in Brazil and how we saw tech founders and CEOs as kings. We imagined what it would be like to assume the throne. But these weren’t just any kings. Silicon Valley was the kingdom of nerds and underdogs. We identified with these guys, they were just like us. We were fed the myth of a Silicon Valley meritocracy, and the illusion that all you needed was ambition, determination, and a good idea to meet the right person and get funded. What we didn’t understand was that this myth was not completely rooted in reality. Not everyone has access to the American Dream, ...

Jane VC, a new fund for female entrepreneurs, wants founders to cold email them

Want to pitch a venture capitalist? You’ll need a “warm introduction” first. At least that’s what most in the business will advise. Find a person, typically a man, who made the VC you’re interested in pitching a whole bunch of money at some point and have them introduce you. Why? Because VCs love people who’ve made them money; naturally, they’ll be willing to hear you out if you’ve got at least one money maker on your side. There’s a big problem with that cycle. Not all entrepreneurs are friendly with millionaires and not all entrepreneurs, especially those based outside Silicon Valley or from underrepresented backgrounds, have anyone in their network to provide them that coveted intro. Jane VC, a new venture fund based out of Cleveland and London wants entrepreneurs to cold email them. Se...

Building a great startup requires more than genius and a great invention

Shahin Farshchi Contributor More posts by this contributor Investing in frontier technology is (and isn’t) cleantech all over again The dos and don’ts of crafting frontier-tech companies Many entrepreneurs assume that an invention carries intrinsic value, but that assumption is a fallacy. Here, the examples of the 19th and 20th century inventors Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla are instructive. Even as aspiring entrepreneurs and inventors lionize Edison for his myriad inventions and business acumen, they conveniently fail to recognize Tesla, despite having far greater contributions to how we generate, move and harness power. Edison is the exception, with the legendary penniless Tesla as the norm. Universities are the epicenter of pure innovation research. But the reality is that academic res...

Africa Roundup: Paga goes global and 4 startups raise $99M in VC

Jake Bright Contributor More posts by this contributor Polestar unveils first production EV with aim to overtake Tesla Liquid Telecom goes long on Africa’s startups as future clients Nigerian digital payments startup Paga is gearing up for international expansion with a $10 million round led by the Global Innovation Fund. The company is exploring the release of its payments product in Ethiopia, Mexico, and the Philippines—CEO Tayo Oviosu told TechCrunch. Paga looks to go head to head with regional and global payment players, such as PayPal, Alipay, and Safaricom according to Oviosu. “We are not only in a position to compete with them, we’re going beyond them,” he said of Kenya’s MPesa mobile money product. “Our goal is to build a global payment ecosystem across many emerging markets.” Laun...

Investors are waking up to the emotional struggle of startup founders

Mahendra Ramsinghani Contributor Mahendra Ramsinghani is the founder of Secure Octane, a Silicon Valley-based cybersecurity seed fund. More posts by this contributor Lessons from cybersecurity exits Is Symantec getting ready to buy Splunk? As the Gartner Hype Curve goes, from the peak of inflated expectations to the trough of disillusionment, so goes the founder’s emotional journey. Most founders hit the trough sooner or later, the proverbial nadir of their startup life. The company’s business model undergoes the dreaded pivot. Teams dissipate and the foundation starts to fall apart. Startups die. Investors cut their losses and move on to the rosier pastures of their portfolio. And what is often left is a depressed broken founder, dealing with the consequences of ‘crushing it’. But too oft...

TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield is coming soon to Beirut, São Paolo and Lagos

Everyone knows there are thriving startup communities outside of obvious hubs, like San Francisco, Berlin, Bangalore and Beijing, but they don’t always get the support they deserve. Last year, TechCrunch took a major page from its playbook, the Startup Battlefield competition, and staged the event in Nairobi, Kenya to find the best early stage startup in Sub-Saharan Africa, and also to Sydney, Australia, to find the same for Australia and New Zealand. Both were successes, thanks to talented founders and the hard traveling TechCrunch team. And now we’re pleased to announce that we’re stepping up our commitment to emerging ecosystems. TechCrunch is once again teaming up with Facebook, our partner for last year’s Nairobi event, to bring the Startup Battlefield to three major cities representi...